Jiujiang Third Psychological Convalescence Centre was opened 23 years ago. It was the earliest private mental hospital in Jiujiang. From the name, it was clear that they were not a government body but a private convalescence center.
The center had three sick halls, and the admission fee at the first sick hall was much cheaper than government hospital, but the conditions were extremely bad. The second sick hall’s fees were twenty percent higher than normal, but there were specialized nurses and doctors. The third sick hall was only open to a small number of patients. The fee was extremely high, several times the price of a normal room.
From the notes left behind by the director, the situation when the center was first built was completely different from how it was later. At the beginning, the third sick hall was not a sealed up area. In fact, it was the place with the best environment and highest price.
The center operated for three months before they received a special patient. The director recorded the scenario in detail. That day was probably a turning point for him.
A car with foreign plates arrived at the center, and two men helped an incredibly pregnant woman out from the backseat. The director came to welcome them personally. After some questions, he realized that the woman had a serious mental illness. Due to safety concerns for the mother and the baby, the director rejected their admission.
The man seemed to have predicted this, and he offered a fee that was ten times higher than the already high asking price of the third sick hall. He told the director that he would pay for half a year of treatment at once.
Looking at the mountain of cash on the table, the director and the doctors were swayed. After the center went into operation, the first and second sick halls were filled to the brim, but most of the rooms in the third sick hall were left empty. After all, most rich patients would select official government mental hospitals to seek treatment.
With some coaxing from the doctors, the director finally admitted the pregnant woman and assigned her the third room of the third sick hall. After making sure that the woman had settled in, the man left the director with his phone number and claimed that he was the woman’s husband. However, when the director asked to see their marriage certificate, the man could not produce it.
Nevertheless, since he had accepted the money, the director could not do anything about it. It was too late for regret. All he could do was take good care of the woman. After the initial diagnosis, it was found that the pregnant woman did suffer from a mental illness, bipolar disorder. She refused to communicate and would cry one moment and be consumed by rage the next. She slammed things that she could see and would sometimes injure herself. To keep her safe, the doctors baby-proofed everything inside Room 3.
The woman’s illness was unstable, but due to her pregnancy, most medication could not be used. The only thing the doctors could do was psychological counselling. Three months passed just like that, and it was close to her due date. The hospital hired several nurses to watch over her twenty-four hours a day.
It was unknown whether it was the coming baby that had elicited the woman’s motherly nature or the effects of the counselling sessions, but the woman stopped acting up. She did not like human contact and spent most of her time touching her stomach, talking to herself.
Four months later, the child was born, and the woman’s condition improved tremendously. The director and doctors sighed in the relief, and that day, they called the husband, but there was no answer.
A bad feeling appeared in their heart, and they hired a special PI to investigate the man’s identity. It turned out that all of his documentation was fake. After a discussion between the director and the doctors, they decided that if the man failed to show up after his money had run out, they would call the police. Considering the woman’s condition, they did not tell her about this.
The woman recollected her hope in life after the baby was born and started to provide her full cooperation. She wanted to get better for her child. She would also ask about her husband because in her mind, after she was cured, her husband would return.
However, half a year later, the man’s money had dried up, and the man seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth.
There were two different voices inside the hospital. Some doctors and nurses suggested to have the mother and son transferred away—taking care of both for free was too much work. The director, out of his compassion, asked them to wait a little longer, but the nurse who took care of the woman accidentally let this information slip.
The woman demanded to talk to her husband, and all she got was the emotionless machine operator telling her that the number she was calling was no longer in use.
Before sending the woman into the center for treatment, there appeared to have been a pact between the woman and the man. Now that the pact had been broken, the woman’s condition deteriorated. She started to turn hostile to everyone around her. She was lost inside a dark maze and could not find a way out. To prevent the woman from hurting her own son, the doctor removed the baby from her care.
The woman lost her mind and refused to communicate. The baby was too small, and the hospital could not just adopt him for her. They tried their best to cure the woman, hoping to get information on the man from her, to make him pay for the remaining of the fee.
No one would have thought that this treatment would go on for three years. The woman’s child grew up inside the mental hospital, and he learned how to walk and talk in this place that was filled with crazies.
The first three years of a child’s life was called the baby period. It was when a human picked up the most information, and it formed the foundation for the child’s future. The woman’s child spent these formative years inside this twisted and complicated environment.
The money had already run out, so the hospital was taking care of them out of kindness. It was fine for one or two days, but as the days dragged on, the sound of complaints grew, and even the workers’ eyes started to change when they saw the child.
The crazy mother was locked inside her room, and the thing the child did the most in those three years was ask the doctors or nurses to carry him to Room 3. He would lean against the window on the door and look into the room at the woman.
When the child learned how to walk, he would sometimes wander over to Room 3 on his own, looking at the door that was several times bigger than he was. Days rolled into weeks and weeks into months. Other children of his age had family and friends—their lives were filled with colors—but the world in this child’s eyes were different. White-washed hospital walls filled most of his memory, and sooner or later, he acted different from how a normal child would.
Chen Ge had unwillingly read to the end. The letter was like the director’s personal diary.
“This child’s childhood is even sadder than mine.”
He had thought that his own childhood of playing with mannequin heads and plastic bones was sad enough, but here was someone who had it worse.
Putting down the letter, Chen Ge turned to look at the not-yet-mailed envelopes. The envelopes had no stamps and were not addressed. They were yellow from age and seemed to have been written years ago. Chen Ge opened them according to chronological order. The first letter was written twenty years ago. At the time, the woman’s child had only been two.
“Doctor Chen, this is the first time I’ve come across such a brilliant child. He picks up stuff at a superhuman rate.
“Being born in a hidden corner of the place, growing up in a sick environment, should I send him away?
“The child will definitely be a genius in the future, but his various reactions make me worry.
“Ever since he learned how to talk, just like his mother, he has talked to talk to himself. No, it feels more like he is communicating with something we can’t see.
“The doctors and nurses are very busy, and there is no one who is free to teach him to speak other than me, but I keep hearing strange words coming from his lips. Did he pick those up from hearing the doctors and nurses? Or is someone else teaching him?
“I’m materialistic, but seeing what happened to the kid has swayed my conviction. According to rumors, a toddler can see things that adults cannot, is that true?”